Letters to the Editor

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Fredericton Airport Strike - Management captured on video breaking Transport Canada regs Sunday

Union concerned for traveling public 

According to members of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) currently on strike at the Fredericton airport, management broke Transport Canada regulations on Sunday by having unqualified managers operate snowplough trucks due to the snowstorm that day. This makes the union worried about public safety.

A video posted to YouTube yesterday by someone under the pseudonym Johnny English, shows three snowploughs clearing the runways at the Fredericton International Airport. At the end of the video is a freeze frame of an individual driving one of the snowploughs, who, union members claim, is airport CEO David Innes. In the background audio of the video is the song "Woolly Bully" by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs. It seems to inject humor into the situation at CEO Innes's expense as the union claims management has bullied employees in the past, making for a toxic work environment.

Underneath this video on YouTube is the caption, "...two are not qualified with no airbrake [training], radio license, or experience. Bully bully David."

Christine Collins, the national president of  the UCTE, said last Friday during a union protest at the airport, that she has real concerns about management doing the work of employees. Collins said Transport Canada regulations call for qualified personnel to perform airport services.

This publication was made aware of the existence of the video via phone message while off on the holiday weekend.

Management at the Fredericton International Airport Authority was contacted for comment, however, messages were not returned. 

The UCTE local 60601 has been on strike at the Fredericton airport since February 13, 2012. The union claims airport management is attempting to force all airport employees to be designated as 'Airport Operations Specialists' which means firefighters would fix snow ploughs and mechanics would fight fires.

They are calling for airport management, especially CEO David Innes, to reverse changes at the airport that have had a serious impact on morale and working conditions. They consider these changes to be attacks on the professionalism of airport staff, reducing the professionalism of the service they are able to provide the public.

But overriding these changes for the union is the threat to public safety. Inexperienced managers are performing the services of qualified crews employed for emergencies, maintenance, and runway repair. Union leaders want management to get back to the bargaining table before there is a serious accident or tragic loss of life. 

"Hopefully they'll come back to the table...that's the hope," said Wayne Fagan, the UCTE's Regional Vice-President Atlantic representative.